by Katarina Vuckovic

the blue heron lives here,
flying over fen and moss,
waiting patiently for her kill by the river’s edge.
i can hear the beating of her wings
followed by a swift sail

…and if i listen even closer,
women on porches yelling
make love not war!
while men whittle their drink
and the barrel of their guns.

the blue heron lives here
and apparently,
i live here too.

my mother said
remember who you are
before I left.

inside me live wild plums
and cliffs of crumbling orange rock.
the house on the green hill
i haven’t seen since.

women in black –
smacking dough against hot oven walls,
boiling poison out of mushrooms,
and foreign men in suits.

women in deep black,
opening their bellies
with their own bloody hands:
the makers of life and death.

i stuffed myself with wild plums
before I waved goodbye.
i never really left.

my children’s pockets are
weighed with river rocks,
not the shrapnel from my hill.

i can’t explain to them
how words become weapons,
how good soil turns into uranium-235.
why i let my mother-tongue
roast slowly on the spit.

so i whisper to my children:
never forget who you are,
without a clue what this means.

when my mother said remember
i split the river from the hill.
i didn’t see the blue heron for ten years…
though she was always just in front of me.

today, i forget myself by the river edge.
the majestic heron lays her pale blue eggs
in the trees above.
she sleeks her plumage and takes off,
grey wings slicing green water.

cattails tremble into stillness,
the water turns to glass.
in my reflection i am smiling;
in my reflection the green hill
slowly rises out of the river,